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Essence Festival in New Orleans reaches record attendance with more than 550,000 participants

Erykah Badu performs at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, Sunday, July 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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Erykah Badu performs at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, Sunday, July 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS - The Essence Festival marked its 20th anniversary by setting a record for annual attendance with more than 550,000 participants celebrating four days of R&B music, community and black culture at the New Orleans' convention centre and Superdome.

That's about 10,000 more people than attended the 2013 festival, which included a sold-out performance by Beyonc�. Organizers say the 2014 festival has earned the distinction of being the largest gathering in its history.

This year's festival included more than 80 musical performances highlighted by Prince, Lionel Richie, Charlie Wilson, Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae, Trey Songz and The Roots. There were also more than 150 speakers addressing everything from solutions to crime and violence to growing entrepreneurs and maintaining healthy relationships.

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